An explosion at the World View balloon site rocked buildings a mile away today. Employees at nearby defense industry businesses ran out of buildings believing that there was an attack of some kind.
World View issued the following statement: Following the completion of a successful fill test on the launch pad, during the process of backing out of the full fill configuration, a significant balloon rupture occurred which was reportedly heard in the local area. We have reached out to reassure our immediate neighbors. There were no injuries and only superficial facility damage at the site. The flight system itself was unaffected.
Pima County owns the facility and leases it to World View.
The World View facility was built on land that was intended to serve as a buffer zone for Raytheon. Raytheon has missiles stored in bunkers on its property.
World View’s explosion caused ceiling tiles to fall on Raytheon employees, according to sources.
According to sources, World View used hydrogen, a very volatile gas, in the balloon. Experts question the wisdom of using such a dangerous gas near a missile site as well as Davis Monthan Air Force base and Tucson Airport.
“Hydrogen ballooning is almost nonexistent actually because of the highly flammable nature of the gas,” report Prof. Antonio Dumas, Dr. Michele Trancossi, and Dr. Mauro Madonia in their paper: Hydrogen Airships: A Necessary Return Because Of High Costs of Helium.
It was the use of hydrogen that led to the tragic Hindenberg disaster.
Tucson Fire is investigating the matter.